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Wildlife Road Watch seeks volunteers
FALMOUTH — With the arrival of spring, Maine’s wildlife is on the move, and Maine Audubon is seeking volunteers statewide to help track movements of wildlife across Maine’s roads.
This spring marks the one-year anniversary of the Maine Audubon Wildlife Road Watch, a web-based interactive map that allows Mainers to record their roadside wildlife sightings, in order to help biologists and transportation planners better understand how and where wildlife get across Maine’s roads.
We've all heard the Maine joke "You can't get there from here." Unfortunately, for too many wildlife, this is no joke. When habitats are divided or blocked by roads, wildlife suffers. Over time, this can result in decreased populations of species that require large territories or different kinds of habitats to find food, mates and shelter; it can keep young animals from dispersing, and ultimately, cause some species to become locally or even regionally extinct. And climate change is making the ability of wildlife to find suitable habitats more important than ever.
And the impact isn't limited to animals - people get hurt and die in these collisions, too.
The information gathered by the Maine Audubon Wildlife Road Watch is intended to be used to help make traveling on Maine’s roads safer for wildlife and people.
In the past year, the site attracted hundreds of registered users, who have recorded and mapped over 1,000 unique wildlife sightings all over the state.
Now, Maine Audubon is seeking dedicated volunteers to “Adopt A Road” for regular monitoring, to add a more finely-detailed layer of understanding in targeted areas around Maine. Volunteers will be asked to record any wildlife sightings on a segment of roadway they travel regularly - whether it’s on their daily walk through the neighborhood, their commute to work, a weekly bike ride, or on the bus ride to school.
“Surveying specific road segments more intensively, on a regular basis, will give us detailed information about how road design and surrounding habitats in specific areas affect how - or whether - wildlife get across roads,” explains Maine Audubon biologist Barbara Charry, who established the site and has been monitoring its growing collection of wildlife observations.
“We are especially excited about volunteers tracking movements across high priority wildlife crossing areas mapped by the Beginning with Habitat program” said Sally Stockwell, Director of Conservation at Maine Audubon, and co-chair of Beginning with Habitat. Beginning with Habitat provides maps and information to communities all across Maine about the location and conservation of high value plant and animal habitat.
While the “Adopt A Road” volunteers are expected to provide a steady stream of scientific observations in particular places, the Road Watch website will continue to encourage regular and occasional users, who provide a rich supply of scientific data and interesting wildlife sightings across the rest of the state.
Visit www.maineaudubon.org/wildliferoadwatch to learn more - or just to add your latest roadside wildlife sighting to the growing collection. Stop by Maine Audubon after May 1 to pick up your free Wildlife Road Watch bumper sticker or send in $1 with your address to receive one by mail (cash only please) to: Maine Audubon Wildlife Road Watch, 20 Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth, ME 04105.
This project is a Maine Audubon partnership with Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, Maine Department of Transportation, and the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis in California.
Maine Audubon’s Wildlife Road Watch has been supported in part by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, the TransWild Alliance, and TogetherGreen, an initiative of the National Audubon Society with support from Toyota.
Maine Audubon works to protect Maine’s wildlife and wildlife habitat by engaging people of all ages in education, conservation and action. With more than a 160-year history of connecting people with nature, Maine Audubon is the only organization in Maine working to conserve wildlife in three ways: providing hands-on environmental education for people of all ages, conducting research and wildlife conservation projects statewide, and taking action to help shape effective science-based conservation policy.
Support for Maine Audubon comes from its 11,000 members, donors, and volunteers, including individuals, foundations, and corporations. Maine Audubon is an independently funded and operated affiliate of the National Audubon Society and has local chapters statewide (Downeast, Fundy, Merrymeeting, Midcoast, Penobscot Valley, Western Maine, York County).
Maine Audubon’s programs and trips, two year-round visitor centers, and eight wildlife sanctuaries open to the public offer young children through senior citizens wide-ranging opportunities to explore, learn about, and care for Maine’s wildlife throughout the year.
To find out more, please visit www.maineaudubon.org.